Now that the Winter Olympics are behind us and Spring is ahead, it’s time to think about getting out and start moving again. Winter is the time in Chinese Medicine for retrospection and renewal; Spring is the time when energy (Qi) starts to move again. We see this as we look out our windows. The birds are beginning to sing, animals are coming out of hibernation and humans get the urge to go outside and do something (also known as “spring fever”).
Hopefully, we’ve all kept up with some activity during this winter either outside, at the gym or at home. But even if you’ve been active over the winter, starting an exercise program in the spring can bring on muscle/joint soreness and pain. What to do: Live with it? Work through it? Take a pain killer? A drug-free solution used by many including Olympic and professional athletes is “sports cupping”. What is sports cupping you ask? Is that where Michael Phelps had those marks on his back during the Summer Olympics?
Sports cupping has been used for years by Western physical therapists and for centuries by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Cupping involves the use of cups (plastic or silicone more recently, glass, bamboo or ceramic more traditionally) to create a vacuum that draws skin, muscles and tissue up and into the cup. The suction from this vacuum releases the restrictions and adhesions that form between the muscles and fascia while improving blood flow to the area. The result of the cupping is decreased muscles tension, increased blood circulation to the area and increased lymphatic drainage resulting in less swelling to the injured area. Most people and athletes notice increased flexibility and range of motion (ROM), better endurance and performance. Conditions that respond to sports cupping include chronic shoulder pain and knee pain, hamstring and lateral leg tightness, frozen shoulder syndrome, plantar fasciitis, sore and achy muscles, muscles strains, overuse injuries and traumatic injuries resulting from slips and falls.
Although sports cupping leaves the athlete with circular marks (see above photo), these subside with 7-10 days and are not painful.
Who can benefit from sports cupping? Do you participate in a sport or an exercise program? Do you have muscle and/or joint pain after working out, especially if beginning a new exercise? Have you been injured playing your sport?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are a candidate for sports cupping! Try something new with your exercise routine in 2018. See what sports cupping can do for you.